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Gourmet food in Zhangjiajie

By Zheng Zhiping | Updated : Sep 30, 2022
A gourmet meal in Zhangjiajie may consist of fruits, tea, cold dishes, hot dishes and hot pot. Nowadays, tourists can enjoy all kinds of food from all over China in Zhangjiajie.


“Sanxiaguo” is one of the best known dishes in Zhangjiajie, with its signs seen everywhere.

“‘Sanxiaguo’ has a long history. It does not refer to three dishes, but three processes,” said Zhang Shile, the president of Zhangjiajie Catering Industry Association. Tujia “Sanxiaguo” was a dish popular at the wharfs along the ancient Lishui River. In ancient times, the Lishui River was the main traffic artery in northwest Hunan. 

During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the then Yongding County of Zhangjiajie became an important commercial town where merchants gathered. As the wharfmen passing by had no time to wait for the food to be cooked freshly, the eateries would stew all kinds of dishes in advance.

When the wharfmen came to have a meal, they just needed to put the food in their bowls.

Why is it called “Sanxiaguo”? Its main ingredients are mostly animal offal which needs to be cooked three times. Firstly, put the ingredients into the boiling water for blanching and then cut them into small pieces. Secondly, fry, season and stew the food. Thirdly, put the food in need in a small pot for eating. Zhang Shile believes that the quick cooking method of “Sanxiaguo” has inspired the cooking method of modern chain restaurants.

Zhangjiajie has now developed into a world well-known modern tourist city. As life is getting better, people who eat “Sanxiaguo” are not in a hurry to do their jobs, and they just enjoy the food. “Sanxiaguo” has also changed with the times. Not only are the ingredients more abundant, but also the ways of eating are also different, including dry pot and soup pot. Dry pot has no soup and is very spicy. Soup pot is moderately spicy and salty, suitable for all ages.

When the “Sanxiaguo” are served, the open stove is lit, the dry pot squeaks, and the fragrance is permeating the air. Diners are deeply impressed by the offal which is soft but not mushy, the cured meat with smoky flavor and the Tujia’s edible wild herbs which are tasty and refreshing.

Cold noodles

If “Sanxiaguo” is a signature dish on the dining table, cold noodles are a must-eat snack in Zhangjiajie.

Next to the Athens International Home on Shuangyong Road, Zhangjiajie City, there is a “Cold Noodles Street”. Several cold noodles shops are densely distributed on both sides of the street. A big shop only sells cold noodles which are produced all by themselves.

Every shop is doing well.

There are a variety of main dishes such as pork ears, spiced beef and spicy bean curd, side dishes like peanuts, shredded kelp and pickled garlic, seasoning like garlic and sweet red pepper as well as a dozen ingredients.

A bowl of delicious and filling cold noodles only costs about 10 yuan, which is quite cheap. No wonder people in Zhangjiajie often eat cold noodles for both breakfast and lunch.

“On a busy day, more than 1,000 bowls of or 150 kilograms of cold noodles can be sold,” said Qin Yuqiang, the founder of Qiangge Cold Noodles. His well-known chain shops of Pig’s Head Cold Noodles have also been opened in Changsha, Changde and other places. A bowl of cold noodles reflects the simple and romantic life of Zhangjiajie’s people.

A table of dishes

In early August, at the closing ceremony of the Third Zhangjiajie Tourism Food Festival, the organizing committee released the menu of “A table of dishes” and the list of top 10 famous dishes, chefs, restaurants and snacks of Zhangjiajie.

“A table of dishes” includes fruits, tea, cold dishes, hot pot, hot dishes, vegetable dishes and dim sum that are selected from the two districts and two counties of Zhangjiajie. Most of the delicacies of Zhangjiajie are Hunan cuisine with strong Tujia characteristics.

This year, on the occasion of the upcoming First Hunan Tourism Development Conference, Zhangjiajie has further explored the tourism food culture, and promoted the transformation and upgrading of Zhangjiajie’s tourism and catering industries.

During the event, many catering brands exhibited their signature dishes, such as “Fuzhengyi Sanxiaguo” with strong Tujia characteristics and “Suoxi Shanzhai” with many stars coming for meals. The food exhibition corridor composed of nearly 100 catering and food ingredients enterprises in Zhangjiajie has opened up a new world of food in Zhangjiajie and showed the charm of food in Zhangjiajie besides the tourist attractions.

The officially released “Zhangjiajie Food Handbook” and “Zhangjiajie Hand-painted Food Map” allow you to locate the well-known restaurants according to the map and enjoy the gourmet food in Zhangjiajie.

Different cuisines

There are certainly not only local delicacies in Zhangjiajie.
The Nanmenkou Food Street opposite the Dayong Ancient Town is a late-night canteen of Zhangjiajie. It gathers 37 well-known brand restaurants from all over Hunan Province, including Changsha cuisine, Yueyang barbecue and seafood. It is very pleasant to have a late-night snack at the quaint Nanmenkou after a night tour of the Lishui River with friends.

If you don’t want to eat Hunan cuisine, there are also other cuisines available for your choice, such as the Yu cuisine restaurant Folk Granary, Zheng Erlao’s Private Home Cuisine which mainly serves Northeastern Chinese cuisine, Yushanwan, a private home cuisine restaurant combining Guangdong and Hunan cuisines, and the time-honored Xiongda Seafood.

As South Koreans like to travel to Zhangjiajie, there are many Korean restaurants in Zhangjiajie offering food with authentic taste, such as the Itaewon restaurant, the Korean Barbecue Restaurant in Huang Jincheng, and the Erpiao Fried Chicken Restaurant at the Zhongshang Plaza.

Tourists from all over the world are welcome to visit Zhangjiajie, where they can enjoy not only the beautiful scenery but also the gourmet food.

Edited by Li Ling 

2019 Zhangjiajie Bureau of Culture, Tourism, Broadcasting and Sports